Battle of Cravant

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The Battle of Cravant was an encounter fought on July 31, 1423, during the Hundred Years War between English and French forces, a victory for the English and their Burgundian allies. After the Treaty of Troyes in 1420, the English king was permitted to occupy all the country north of the Loire. In 1422, with Henry V suddenly dead and an infant King Henry VI of England, hostilities recommenced.

In the early summer of 1423, two allied armies, one English, one Burgundian, rendezvoused at Auxerre to counter an army for the Dauphin's cause that was marching into Burgundy, headed for Bourges. This French army also contained a large number of Scots under Sir John Stewart, who was commanding the entire mixed force. The two sides met at the village of Cravant in Burgundy, at a bridge and ford on the banks of the river Yonne, a left-bank tributary of the Seine, southeast of Auxerre.

The Dauphin's forces drawn up on one bank outnumbered the English and Burgundians on the opposite bank more than two to one. The combined English and Burgundian forces, numbering some 4,000 men, were led by Thomas Montacute, 4th Earl of Salisbury.

For three hours the forces stared each other down, neither willing to attempt an opposed river crossing. Salisbury finally took the initiative and his his army begun to cross the waist-high river, some 50 meters wide, under a covering hail of arrows from English archers. Meanwhile, another English force under Lord Willoughby de Eresby forced a passage through the Scots across the narrow bridge and divided the Dauphin's army.

When the French ranks began to withdraw, the Scots refused to flee and were cut down by the hundreds. Over 3,000 of them fell at the bridgehead or along the riverbanks, and over 2,000 prisoners were taken, including John Stewart and the commander of the Dauphin's forces, the Comte de Vendome. The Dauphin's forces retreated to the Loire, leaving many prisoners behind and over 6,000 dead. The success at Cravant began the peak of English arms in the Hundred Years War.


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